Finance minister P Chidambaram on Saturday pitched for a national investment board (NIB), headed by the Prime Minister, to fast-track infrastructure projects spanning expressways, ports and railways.
"The NIB's authority should extend to proposals/projects where the investment is above a certain threshold, say, Rs 1,000 crore," Chidambaram said at a meeting of the Planning Commission. "Once the final decision is taken by the NIB, no other ministry or department or authority should be able to interfere with that decision, or delay its implementation."
Time and cost overruns have been a major deterrent for India's infrastructural projects, which is hit by fund shortage, environmental concerns and delays in government clearances. Infra projects worth over Rs 1.5 lakh crore are currently stuck in various stages of procedural and regulatory procedures.
The cabinet is set to approve many such projects over the next couple of weeks.
Criticising the current system of approval, where "a truly 'final' decision (on projects) cannot emerge for many years", the finance minister said, "The authority to take the final decision/decisions should be vested with an NIB, to be chaired by the Prime Minister, and the Allocation of Business Rules should be amended to create such a mechanism."
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said India will require $1 trillion (about Rs 55 lakh crore) to upgrade its infrastructure, and asked ministries to set ambitious targets for the 12th Plan period (2012-2017).